Thursday, January 22, 2015

out of this world

The Word for today:
Titus 2
Today we behold one of the most beloved passages in scripture. It presents an exquisite picture of what we refer to as the “Rapture”--
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)
We hear a great deal about the Rapture. Stand in the Rain, about a year ago, devoted a 2-part article to the subject, which can be found here and here.
Some people make fun of the Rapture, and in the case of unbelievers, I can understand why. If you don’t know God, the Rapture is just too miraculous to even imagine. So most of the unbelieving world just snickers.
Some believers also find the Rapture unbelievable. (I know this because I used to be one of them.) They either can’t see it in scripture; or else, saved as they are, their Jesus is too little to pull off such an outrageous, outlandish, outstanding, out of this world (literally!) and outta sight (literally!) miracle.
First, let me say that salvation does not depend on your belief in miracles like the Rapture. Salvation depends on whether you believe that God died for your sins (just like scripture said he would) and rose again from the dead--just like scripture said he would:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
What I am trying to slyly infer is that if you believe that God became a man in order to die for your sins, and (to verify that the plan worked) rose from the dead, then what in tarnation could keep you from believing some of the less spectacular miracles--like a virgin giving birth, or the parting of the Red Sea, or the time when that virgin’s son (who’d been engendered by the Holy Spirit, no less) did Moses one better and walked right over the top of the water without bothering to part it!
My intention is not to tease you or belittle your faith. Remember, I’m that guy who was saved -- as saved as I ever will be — for years and years before I would, before I could, before I did stop questioning some of the Bible’s more miraculous moments.
But, over time, Jesus—just as the Bible says (1) — grew in stature! He just kept growing and growing in my eyes until one day it was impossible for the virgin birth not to have happened! And of course he could feed 5000. That’s a piece o’ cake when you can make an infinite cosmos out o’ nothing! And when you don’t owe sin any wages (like the rest of us do) then of course you can tell death (in the case of Lazurus) to go take a hike. (2)
The Rapture is foreshadowed throughout scripture. Enoch was raptured way back in the Bible’s fifth chapter. Elijah was raptured. The Apostle Paul was caught up into heaven and came back to tell us he was forbidden to tell us about it!
The Apostle John was raptured into heaven and (lucky for us) was told to tell us everything he saw there. He called his report “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” and you’ll find it at the extreme other end of the Bible. So Enoch, Elijah, Paul, John, and (you thought I forgot) Jesus were all taken up—raptured.
The Rapture is simply the resurrection of the church. The Bible calls Jesus the "firstfruits" (3) and we, of the same seed, will follow in kind.
Through Jesus, God restored his image in us:
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
He gave us his righteousness:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He made us his sons:
To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
Given all that, it is perfectly logical that we would emulate his resurrection as well.
If the desire of your heart is to be like Jesus, and to follow Jesus, then you will -- right out of this world.

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